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We require no more debates at the presidential and vice-presidential level. We have seen quite enough. We have had it up to here.

But we could use at least one debate in the congressional race in Arkansas that suddenly draws national attention for its unexpected competitiveness.

Surely, we can stipulate that the presidential/vice presidential debate arena has been saturated in vivid candidate definition.

In the one presidential debacle, Donald Trump revealed to the few who somehow hadn't yet known that he is a hideous madman, bully and bore.

Joe Biden revealed himself as not demented, which was the bar Trump's insults had set for him. He seemed average-enough in his few words that could be heard between Trump's interruption and brow-beating.

In the vice-presidential debate, Kamala Harris revealed herself as fully able to play at Vice President Mike Pence's level in the arena of ignoring questions and staying on message with practiced answers.

Pence reinforced his reputation for soul-leasing enabling of Trump and shameless efforts to normalize the megalomaniacally abnormal.

Harris perfected the look of amused disgust as the split-screen format captured her listening to Pence committing such comedic outrages as that the Trump administration had performed nobly and effectively in fighting the coronavirus. At that moment, Trump's White House alone had more confirmed active cases than some entire countries.

When I wrote that time that Trump was infecting our White House, I was unaware of the literal truth that was to come.

So now we have Trump in his usual huff berating the Commission on Presidential Debates for deciding Thursday night's town-hall event should be virtual, owing to Trump's active covid-19 case and the usual quarantine period.

Trump rushed to refuse, as if he wouldn't do any debating unless he could have a shot at infecting somebody, maybe Joe.

Then the Biden campaign said Joe would do something else Thursday night and that the final scheduled debate for Oct. 22 should be converted to the town-hall format being lost to Trump's petulance.

All of that was subject to change, meaning the usual retreat and chaos of Trump's Twitter madness. But it raised sanity's fervent hope that we'll not see these two men together again, either in debate or for Biden's inauguration, which Trump probably will boycott.

Meantime, in the 2nd Congressional District of Central Arkansas, Democratic state Sen. Joyce Elliott is showing up on national radar for polling close to U.S. Rep. French Hill and outraising him in the last quarter.

She has Hill scared enough that his campaign put out a smear of Elliott on Facebook through a photograph doctored and taken further out of its accurate context. And Hill declined a commercial television debate in prime time on KATV, Channel 7, presumably banking on the smaller audience and easier going of what will happen Monday, meaning the public television debate on AETN.

Two years ago, Hill got through the hour-long AETN debate without any of three "journalist" panelists asking a single question about health care, which ought to be his Achilles heel.

Photographs show him celebrating the passage of repeal of the Affordable Care Act in an action that the ever-­erratic, situationally flexible and permanently uninformed Trump first called a great victory and later called "too mean." It would have eliminated federally guaranteed equity in coverage for pre-existing conditions such as the one Trump now has.

It should be different at 2 p.m. Monday when the candidates meet in a studio in Conway for a debate live-streamed at that time on YouTube and aired on AETN at 7 p.m.

Hill will have no buffer of a Libertarian candidate between him and Elliott. And the panel looks pretty solid, consisting of Janelle Lilley of KATV, Channel 7; Wesley Brown of the Daily Record; and Jay Bir of KARK-TV, Channel 4, and Fox16.

One or more of those surely will have a health-care question at the ready, particularly with health care something of a current issue.

In fact, I'd be happy if they turned the entire hour over to the virus, to Trump's failure to fight it presidentially and personally, as well as to Hill's enabling of Trump, and Hill's support for repealing the ACA with nothing clear or concrete to put in its place.

I would also look for Elliott to give Hill what-for over his misuse of her photograph and for Hill to come back at her on his own allegation that she is not telling the truth in a television spot saying that he has voted to cut Medicare and Social Security.

Hill counts on the usual small audience and unfocused panel of the AETN tradition. Elliott may have enough money and momentum that she doesn't need the event as much as she otherwise might.

But, speaking of a low bar: If you're looking for something less ridiculous than Trump and possibly more on point that Harris and Pence ...


John Brummett, whose column appears regularly in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, is a member of the Arkansas Writers' Hall of Fame. Email him at [email protected] Read his @johnbrummett Twitter feed.

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